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2020–2021 Academic Year Part-Time Undergraduate RFs

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Addressing Health Disparities in Thailand: Diabetes Management and Impact of COVID-19 

Along with researchers at Chulalongkorn University, Professor Karen Eggleston and her team will analyze nationally representative medical claims data to understand disparities by urban/rural and SES in diabetes management, and the impact of COVID-19 on adherence to treatment. The research fellow will assist with literature review, preparation of tables and figures, drafting sections of the manuscript based on the Thai and Stanford faculty input.

Faculty supervisor: Karen Eggleston, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) 
Research fellow: Sandra Kong, '21, MS '21, biomedical informatics, human rights

African Urban Development Research Initiative (AUDRI): Challenges and Opportunities of Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa 

Africa is one of the most rapidly urbanizing regions in the world. The United Nations estimates that, by 2035, nearly half of the continent’s population will be living in cities. Rising urban populations offer tremendous opportunities for economic growth and prosperity, but they also pose big challenges for infrastructure development, job creation, and access to basic services. The African Urban Development Research Initiative (AUDRI) is a comprehensive research program at the Stanford King Center on Global Development that focuses on Sub-Saharan Africa’s urbanization and the long-run impacts of migration on household welfare and economic growth. AUDRI comprises a series of wide-ranging multiyear studies of the changing social, economic, and political conditions in two of Africa’s largest cities—the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, and the economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan. Through rigorous analyses of the complex web of interactions among individuals, service providers, and local officials that together determine a community’s quality of life, AUDRI aims to produce groundbreaking insights that help policymakers, business leaders, and academics design and implement policies and programs in those cities and beyond. Data collected will also be made public to enable additional evidence-based studies of interest to development researchers.

Faculty supervisor: Pascaline Dupas, Department of Economics, and Marcel Fafchamps, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)
Research fellow: Ana Carolina Paixao de Queiroz, '21, economics major

Banking Crises and the Misallocation of Trade 

This project investigates how a short-term banking crisis can have potential long-term effects for decades. More specifically, this project aims to study if the composition of products exported changed after the crisis of 1866, which disrupted international trade. Professor Xu and her research team also want to relate the potential change in composition with the initial comparative advantages of a country, to study if the disruption caused by the financial crisis could have led to an impoverishment of the country hit and to a decline of worldwide output. To do so, they want to focus on commodities (by far the main type of products traded during the period 1970-1914) and exploit technological progress in our understanding of agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization has measured land absolute agricultural "productivity frontier" at an extreme granular level, that partition the world into very fine grid-cells and provide information for over forty major crops. This will allow them to estimate the distance between what countries actually export and what they should export if they were to exploit their natural advantages and study how this deviation varied around the financial crisis. 

Faculty supervisor: Chenzi Xu, Graduate School of Business 
Research fellows: Caroline Berg, '24, management science and engineering major; Lusha Jetley, '23, economics and political science majors

Building a New Moral Political Economic Framework 

This project aims at building a new moral political economic framework that draws on contemporary understandings of human beliefs, values, and institutions. Such a framework must be based on better economics models, and better models of the state. It must take into account the values that people hold dear and that can inspire action. And it must enable new forms of sociability. Underlying the new framework is the question of what role technology can and should play, and what models of governance will enable us to foster innovation and harness technology for the good of society.

Faculty supervisor: Margaret Levi, Department of Political Science 
Research fellow: Matthew Haide Zheng, '22, anthropology and political science majors, feminist, gender, and sexuality studies minor

Can AI Create Content that is more Persuasive than Foreign Propagandists? An Investigation into Propaganda About Syria

Shelby Grossman (FSI) is working with Mike Tomz (political science), Chris Manning (CS), Rob Reich (political science), Alex Stamos (FSI), and Josh Goldstein (FSI) to understand whether AI can create content that is more persuasive than foreign propaganda, and whether AI can create content that is more persuasive than propaganda copyedited by a native English speaker. The project is focused primarily on disinformation about Syria, but also other countries in the Middle East. We will be conducting a series of online survey experiments. Disinformation has important implications for democracy and development.

Faculty supervisor: Shelby Grossman, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)
Research fellow: Jason Chao, '24, computer science major

Can Economics and Finance Reduce Ethnic Conflict and Political Polarization

This project uses historic natural experiments and contemporary field experiments to understand how economic approaches, including financial innovations, can empower individuals, reduce ethnic conflict and mitigate political polarization.

Faculty supervisor: Saumitra Jha, Graduate School of Business
Research fellows: John Quinn, '22, international relations major; Damon Zuber, '22, economics major

Casual Inference for Social Impact Lab

The Causal Inference for Social Impact Lab (CISIL) at CASBS attempts to advance both causal inference techniques for non-randomized designs and their application to the design and evaluation of public policies. We focus on public policies because many do not, for logistical, political, and ethical reasons, include randomization, which makes them ideal for assessing the limitations of current non-randomized causal inference techniques. The application of non-randomized approaches faces many significant challenges. The techniques are often new and quite complicated, use individual-level data that cannot be made publicly available due to privacy protections, and can require a great deal of computing power. Consequently, studies cannot easily be replicated to test the validity and robustness of results. Furthermore, even researchers—much less decision-makers and the public—may have difficulty understanding how results from a study were produced. Complicating matters even further is the range of statistically reasonable analytic decisions a researcher can make and the effect those decisions have on their analysis. Not only could different non-randomized techniques (e.g. difference-in-differences versus a matching design) produce different results, but the myriad of small decisions nested within that technique (e.g. how concepts are measured, or the threshold a researcher sets for sufficient matches) may also change the outcome. The variety of new approaches, techniques, and researcher degrees of freedom can lead to substantively different results in analyses of similar policy questions. 

Faculty supervisor: Margaret Levi, Department of Political Science
Research fellow: Lila Mack, '22, economics and political science majors

Collective Action as a Pathway to Gender Equality: A Study of Women’s Groups in India 

For decades women in India have remained absent from public life and outsiders from political institutions. More recently, rapid economic growth, political reservations, and social empowerment have produced a “silent revolution” in the role of women in public life. Often, this silent revolution has come in the form of collective action amongst women. How and when do these micro-movements form and lead to sustained political and social change? Furthermore, when does women's political participation change politics and governance? This project aims to document how and when heterogeneous groups of women come together at the local level to demand political representation and whether these micro-movements generate changes in governance and the representation of women’s interests in political communities.

Faculty supervisor: Soledad Prillaman, Department of Political Science 
Research fellow: Somer Bryant, '22, international relations and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies majors

Confronting Data Sparsity to Predict Vectors of American Cutaneous Leishmaniasis

American cutaneous leishmaniasis (ACL) is a sandfly-borne disease caused by over ten species of intracellular protists. Although ACL was predicted to be extirpated with human development, human case numbers continue to increase in rural and urban areas. Disparity between early predictions and current reality likely stems from an incomplete knowledge on the full range of ACL vectors. ACL was initially associated with forest-dwelling vectors but synanthropic sandflies have since been found infected with Leishmania protists. Here, we will use imputation and machine learning (Bayesian Multi-label Learning via Multiple Labels) to predict vectors for each species of Leishmania known to cause ACL. These novels methods are particularly well-suited for classification problems in data-sparse systems. In addition to identifying vectors of ACL, we will calculate the effect of different land-use types on probability of being a vector. Altogether, our results will enable targeted surveillance of sandflies as well as improved hypotheses on the effect of global change on ACL transmission.

Faculty supervisor: Erin Mordecai, Department of Biology
Research fellow: Gowri Vadmal, '24, undeclared

Crime, Violence, and Policing: Patterns and Hotspots in India

King Center Postdoctoral Fellow Nirvikar Jassal is exploring law enforcement in India for a book project. The book highlights the impact of interventions that encourage women and minorities to comfortably approach the police for cases of sexual violence and hate crime. The book uses a novel dataset of crime records; the undergraduate researcher interested in this topic will assist in the additional scraping, cleaning, and merging, as well as assist in the development of research papers on sexual violence, ethnic conflict, and political violence. Those with exceptional skills in computer science would be an ideal fit. Additional knowledge of econometrics and South Asia would also be welcome.

Faculty supervisor: Nirvikar Jassal, King Center on Global Development
Research fellows: Emily Wu, '21, computer science major; Shirley Cheng, '22, computer science and international relations majors

Did Financial Institutions Mitigate or Exacerbate Conflict in China?

This project examines the process of nation-building in China in the crucial 1920s and 1930s. It was a period of both financial revolution as well as widespread civil and international conflict. Professor Saumitra Jha and his team are interested in understanding to what extent the spread of financial institutions and opportunities aligned the incentives of local elites with peace and development, and to what extent they may have instead fostered further conflict.

Faculty supervisor: Saumitra Jha, Graduate School of Business
Research fellow: Xin Ma, '22, economics major, computer science and data science minors

Disentangling the Human Vector Relationship to Disrupt Dengue and Chikungunya Virus Outbreaks in Kenya

The climate-enabled vector abundance, human movement and activity space, and viral introductions are critical factors for transmission and human disease in sub-Saharan urban environments. The presence of dengue and chikungunya disease has long been under-recognized and underreported in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in Kenya. In this project, the potential impact of targeted interventions on human chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Dengue virus (DENV) incidence and vector abundance will be examined using advanced models parameterized on robust human, vector and virus field data. 2,000 participants each will be recruited from two study sites in Kenya (Ukunda [coast] and Kisumu [west]), with a subject follow up every 6 months for 2 years. Stanford laboratory will receive blood samples from both Kenya sides and will perform serologic testing (DENV and CHIKV IgG) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) assay. Presence of Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) and Dengue virus (DENV) will be also performed in blood samples from both Kenya study sites using RT-PCR technique.

Faculty supervisor: Desiree LaBeaud, School of Medicine
Research fellow: Bethel Bayrau, '22, human biology major

Edtech for English-Language Learning in India

Stones2Milestones is an educational technology company in India that provides an application for students aged 3 to 9 to learn to read English alongside their parents; the app can be used as part of an in-school experience, and it can also be used by individual students. Stones2Milestones also provides online tutoring, as well as proficiency testing across a large number of schools. Professor Susan Athey’s lab has several projects ongoing with this partner. The first project seeks to improve student engagement by building a recommendation system that provides personalized recommendations for content. The lab team is also designing a process for A/B testing of that system and metrics to measure its effectiveness. In addition, the lab is identifying methods to improve how users are assessed both on the learning occurring within the app and across a user’s educational journey, integrating this program with the early school curriculum and supporting parents to help their children learn. Ultimately, the aim to understand how using the app can improve other educational outcomes for students in India.

Faculty supervisor: Susan Athey, Graduate School of Business
Research fellow: Dawson Verley, '22, political science major

Expectations and Realities: Societal Perceptions, Transformations, and the Impact of Transitional Justice Processes Over Time 

The issues of how to meaningfully assess what transitional justice processes have or have not achieved and when such processes are “complete”  have not been sufficiently considered in the literature, apart from implicit assumptions that when a trial or truth commission ends so does the societal reception or transformation (“closure”, “healing”, peacebuilding, ending impunity, reconciliation, etc.) that it was designed to produce.  The search for rigid definitions or “models” of transitional justice often precludes consideration of some interesting cases that don’t fit the definition. While we may ask how a transitional justice enterprise has fared in terms of addressing the needs of victims and societies how do such assessments stand up in light of what in some cases is a multi-generational process of confronting the past?  The goal of this research project is to assess the impact of transitional justice processes for the populations they were intended to serve, exploring in particular the temporal dimension and shifting priorities and opportunities in light of political and societal developments.  

Faculty supervisor: David Cohen, Department of Classics
Research fellow: Lindsay Thornton, '21, international relations major, Spanish minor

Experimental Research Design and Electoral Accountability in Developing Countries in sub-Saharan Africa

Broadly speaking, there are three ongoing projects, two methodological and one substantive. The first project is related to the development of a new variant of the conjoint design related to inference over omitted features. A second methods-related paper examines enumerator-induced heterogeneity and its inferential implications. The substantive project is comprised of three articles on electoral strategies and post-election performance in sub-Saharan Africa. These articles will eventually form the basis of a book on the long-term consequences of political competition where state capacity and party strength are low. 

Faculty supervisor: Brandon de la Cuesta, King Center on Global Development
Research fellows: Cuiping (Tracy) Cai, '22, computer science major; Dawson Verley, '22, political science major

Folk Musicians Research Project 

There are over 100,000 folk musicians in India; songs are inherited between generations and so is the profession of being a singer. In recent years, folk musicians are faced with decreased earnings as the traditional patronage system has disappeared and audiences lack exposure to folk music. With the availability of low-cost and easy-to-use recording devices, recorded music made available through online platforms could be an important tool to increase the market and earnings of folk musicians. Folk musicians can also reach a much wider audience if they gain some visibility through creative collaborations with contemporary musicians. This project will assess the impact of these two interventions on the earnings and outreach of musicians using both qualitative, interview methods as well as field experimental methods.

Faculty supervisor: Aruna Ranganathan, Graduate School of Business
Research fellow: Aayan Das, '21, economics and Chinese majors

Gender and Social Inequalities in Health and Healthcare in India

Governments in lower-income countries are rapidly expanding health insurance programs that provide the poorest households with free or highly subsidized health care. Substantial public resources are spent on these programs, but they have had limited effects on health expenditures and outcomes to date. In India, Shorenstein APARC Asia Health Policy Postdoctoral Fellow Radhika Jain’s ongoing research shows that they have also failed to reduce inequalities in care-seeking: females are substantially less likely to benefit from public health insurance programs than men are. This project will push this work further and use a combination of large administrative and survey data sets to examine the economics of inequalities within government insurance programs and the factors that drive them. 

Faculty supervisor: Radhika Jain, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)
Research fellows: Chinmaya Andukuri, '23, economics major; Ravichandra Tadigadapa, '21, economics and international relations majors

Gender Equality, Child Marriage, and Legal Pluralism in Ethiopia

This project grows out of ongoing research on current initiatives in Ethiopia to empower women and protect them from what are termed “harmful traditional practices” such as child marriage, FGM, and denial of access to justice, reproductive health care, and education. The Ethiopian Federal Constitution provides a wide range of human rights guarantees as swell as specific articles on gender equality. The Ethiopian Federal Family Law also provides important protections for women and children, including prohibiting child marriages and related practices. The complexities of Ethiopian legal pluralism and the structure of the federal system, including the judiciary, as a whole inhibit the implementation of constitutional human rights protections as well as protections provided by the international human rights instruments which Ethiopia has incorporated into its own domestic legal system. Professor David Cohen and his team are developing a training curriculum for Ethiopian government officials to assist them in formulating effective policies to overcome some of the systemic features of the legal system that are preventing implementation of the laws protecting women and children from the practices mentioned above.

Faculty supervisor: David Cohen, Department of Classics 
Research fellow: Kyra Jasper, '22, history major, human rights minor

This research fellowship provides the opportunity to work with Professor Gary Darmstadt to examine impacts of COVID-19 on the health and development of populations in low- and middle-income countries. Analysis will focus on ways in which health inequalities by gender, race, socioeconomic status, religion and age are inter-related and exacerbated in times of crisis. This research will link to and extend principles of gender equality, norms and health advanced in The Lancet Series. The aim is to produce two or more scholarly blog posts for submission to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; analysis may also lead to submission of manuscripts for publication.

Faculty supervisor: Gary Darmstadt, School of Medicine 
Research fellow: Sophia Nesamoney, '23, human biology major, creative writing minor

How Have Health-Related Knowledge and Behavior Changed Over Time in Low- and Middle-Income Countries? 

Great success has been achieved in global health with improving coverage of certain healthcare products. For example, taken by more than 25 million individuals across the world, antiretroviral therapy is estimated to avert more than a million deaths per year. Similarly, coverage with essential childhood vaccinations is above 90% in many low- and middle-income countries, even some of the least economically developed countries. Yet, the global health community has also spent millions of dollars on improving health-related knowledge and bringing about behavior change. What these dollars have achieved, however, is much less studied. The hypothesis of this project is that global health efforts aimed at improving knowledge and bringing about behavior change have had little impact, despite large amounts of money having been spent on these efforts. The contribution of this project lies in its comprehensiveness. Professor Geldsetzer and his team will bring together all Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) as well as Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) that have ever been conducted in a low- or middle-income country to systematically examine how responses to questions on health-related knowledge and behavior have changed over time, and how trends vary between world regions.   

Faculty supervisor: Pascal Geldsetzer, School of Medicine 
Research fellows: Fan Liu, '19, MS '21, biology major, biomedical informatics; Oumou Ndour, '23, bioengineering major; Keaton Ollech, '20, MS '21, biomedical informatics

Human Health, Food Security, and Water Quality Linkages

Feeding more than 10 billion people will require intensified agriculture. To avoid negative impacts of intensification, we need better models to study how increased agricultural activities will impact humans and nature. For this research project, the successful applicant will work on machine learning models to link observations of Nitrate in surface and ground water to factors such as upstream climate and hydrology and, importantly, upstream fertilizer application and nitrate retention. These models can then be used to translate different scenarios of future agriculture, e.g., intensification of agriculture on existing farmland vs. agricultural expansion, into different scenarios of surface and groundwater nitrate pollution. Finally, as nitrate pollution has been shown to link to negative human health outcomes such as colorectal cancer, these models will elucidate an important but so far little studied nexus between future food security and human health.

Faculty supervisor: Gretchen Daily, Department of Biology
Research fellow: Ian Madden, MS '22, computational and mathematical engineering

Human Rights Prospects and Challenges in ASEAN: Seeking Accountability in Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and the Philippines

After military coups in Myanmar and Thailand, human rights crackdown in Cambodia, extra-judicial murders in the Philippines, and ongoing violence in Indonesian Papua, ASEAN is facing an unprecedented challenge to its new human rights framework. How are ASEAN member states responding? This research project will explore the ways in which ASEAN regional institutions, such as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Human Rights Commission, as well as national governments are responding to what appears to be a turning back of the clock on human rights in the region. The human rights situation in the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar has severely deteriorated over the past 12 years since the ASEAN Charter was adopted with its foundational principles of human rights, good governance, the rule of law and democracy. At the same time the growing influence of China has had an important impact in the region in a number of ways, which US influence on human rights issues has dramatically eroded. What are the countervailing forces that are attempting to meet these challenges, what strategies are they adopting, and what are the prospects for their success?

Faculty supervisor: David Cohen, Department of Classics
Research fellows: Natalie Longmire-Kulis, '22, international relations major; Maggie Roache, '22, political science major

Improving Chronic Disease Control in South and Southeast Asia: Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 and the Role of Telehealth and Organizational Innovations in Protecting the Vulnerable

To support resilient health systems and protect vulnerable patients during a pandemic like COVID-19, clinicians and health policymakers need to understand how individuals with chronic health conditions may be foregoing or delaying healthcare, and how to mitigate the impact on long-run health outcomes such as premature mortality, morbidity, disability, and reduced quality of life. Professor Eggleston and her team leverage a previously established, relatively large international network of scholars spanning South and Southeast Asia as well as other parts of the world to study the extent of foregone care for managing diabetes, a prevalent chronic condition that can lead to severe complications (and which itself leads to worse health outcomes if individuals are infected by SARS-CoV-2). How have the second-order effects of COVID-19 exacerbated existing health disparities in managing diabetes? Have those with access to telemedicine fared better? Among users, have the increases in telehealth substantially mitigated disparities in diabetes care? The research team will work with a multinational team of researchers in analyzing new data quantifying the impact of COVID-19 on delayed or foregone care for chronic disease, and how telehealth and other innovations may reduce those adverse impacts.

Faculty supervisor: Karen Eggleston, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)
Research fellow: Brian Ly, '21, economics major, data science minor

Increasing Sustainable Sanitation Access and Reducing Environmental Impacts of Chemical Manufacturing 

Lack of excreta collection and treatment endangers individual and community health across the developing world, particularly in rapidly growing urban centers. Through collaborative work at Stanford and in Dakar, Senegal, Professor Tarpeh’s research team aims to increase sustainable sanitation access and reduce environmental impacts of chemical manufacturing by producing disinfectants and fertilizers from wastewater. Based on previous laboratory development and field trials, the research team will establish proof-of-concept of an electrochemical separation process to recover ammonia disinfectants and fertilizers from urine. By combining molecular-scale laboratory investigations with real-world evaluation, this multidisciplinary effort aims to prioritize future optimization efforts and business model development.

Faculty supervisor: William Tarpeh, Department of Chemical Engineering 
Research fellows: William Chow, '21, chemistry major; James Juma, '22, management science and engineering major

Integrating Migrants and Winning Votes: Evidence from an Anti-Exploitation Campaign in the Italian Agricultural Fields

Policies that favor the integration of migrants frequently increase xenophobic voting and backfire against their promoters, making integration a politically difficult objective to pursue. This research project explores the political and economic consequences of a different type of integration policy: fighting migrant labor exploitation. Dr. Gemma Dipoppa considers the context of the Italian agricultural fields, where more than 400,000 migrants are estimated to be subject to labor racketeering organized and controlled by criminal organizations. Dr. Dipoppa examines a campaign designed to give migrants information and incentives to denounce their racketeers. Exploiting the staggered roll-out of the intervention, Dr. Dipoppa shows that this (i) increased reporting on exploitation and (ii) prosecution of criminal organizations, who are often responsible for smuggling and controlling migrants; (iii) raised awareness among the civil society, and (iv) increased the vote share for pro-integration parties. Survey evidence ties this last result to a change in preferences for immigration: in treated locations, respondents become more pro-integration post treatment. Learning about migrants’ exploitation fostered sentiments of sympathy for migrants, shifting moderate voters towards pro-immigration parties. Unlike other integration policies, fighting migrant exploitation can directly undermine organized crime and improve migrants’ situation at no political cost for parties supporting it.

Faculty supervisor: Gemma Dipoppa, Department of Political Science 
Research fellow: Sophia Zamoyski, '23, psychology major

Migrant Workers in the Arab Gulf States

Migrant workers make up a large percentage of the labor force in the Arab Gulf states, often working under difficult conditions and precarious economic circumstances.  In recent years, Gulf governments have sought to decrease reliance on foreign labor in ways that increase hardship for their migrant labor force.  These policies include the levying of indirect taxes that increase the cost of living for workers as well as through restricting visa and work permits. This project seeks to understand the social and economic implications of changing government policies toward migrant workers in the Gulf with a special focus on migrants from countries like Egypt and Pakistan. The project will also consider how the global Covid-19 pandemic will impact the circumstances for migrant workers in the Gulf states whose communities have been heavily impacted by the virus.

Faculty supervisor: Lisa Blaydes, Department of Political Science 
Research fellow: Ayman Babikir, '22, management science and engineering major

Mixed Ownership Markets and Human Capital Development in India and China in Comparative Perspective

This research project seeks to find, collate, and analyze data on the role of public and private ownership in health and education services in India, China, and other middle-income countries, including their correlation with disparities in access and outcomes, in comparative historical and economic perspectives. Datasets include household datasets like the demographic and health surveys and the HRS-like surveys (LASI, CHARLS); statistical yearbooks for state- and province-level trends in publicly-financed healthcare and education services; and other researchers’ related data. The research seeks to explore whether patterns of contracting out service delivery for “local public goods” like population health, basic medical care, and compulsory schooling quality, are correlated locally and over time; whether the trends help to explain trends in disparities (urban/rural, gender, etc.); and whether patterns of development follow what an extended model of “The Proper Scope of Government” (Hart, Shleifer and Vishny 1997) predicts about mixed-ownership markets including private nonprofits. Research questions include: To what extent do contracting-out policies working to help reduce poverty through development of local human capital in both its health and education dimensions? What explains differential patterns in China and India, between health and education, and between different states/provinces/localities? Do recent policies in India and other parts of South Asia, and/or the poverty alleviation goals declared completed by the PRC in 2020, show evidence of using private contracting for specific services and does the preliminary evidence about impact suggest such contracting out helped to mitigate disparities?

Faculty supervisor: Karen Eggleston, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI)
Research fellow: Ruoying (Carol) Tao, MS '22, health policy

On the Promise and Limitations of Non-Violent Protest: Evidence from the Indian Independence Struggle 

This project involves researching biographies, and merging and entering data from secret intelligence sources and other archives on individuals who participated in India's struggle for independence. The aim is to understand if there were moments in the twentieth century when activists believed that the introduction of a new political technology-- that of non-violent civil disobedience-- would change the process of political reform forever. Yet, despite some notable successes of some movements that adopted this technology, from the Suffragette Movement, to India's mass mobilization for Independence and the Civil Rights movement in the US South, there have also been many failures and partial successes. Beyond the question of mobilizing support to begin with, there is a key additional organizational challenge-- mass movements that start peaceful often are prone to turn violent, providing license to states to also repress such movements with violence. In this book project, Professor Saumitra Jha and Professor Rikhil Bhavnani, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, analyze the external economic and internal organizational incentives under which civil disobedience movements can succeed and fail, drawing from novel, recently declassified intelligence data on non-violent and violent mobilization during three epochs of India's independence movement, as well as from other movements around the world.  This project involves researching biographies, and merging and entering data from secret intelligence sources and other archives on individuals who participated in India's struggle for independence. The aim is to understand who they were and what the institutional features were that allowed the movement to be successful when it was, and to fail when it did.

Faculty supervisor: Saumitra Jha, Graduate School of Business 
Research fellow: Sarayu Pai, '22, mechanical engineering major, economics minor

Origins of Serial Sovereign Default 

This project investigates why some countries have historically been stuck in cycles of sovereign borrowing and then subsequent default. Professor Chenzi Xu and her research team study all sovereign nations that issued external debt starting from the 1820s, during the first wave of financial globalization, up to the modern day. Using their histories of borrowing and default (including the terms of borrowing, the types of default, and the haircuts incurred by the investors), they have found that there are three distinct groups of countries: never/rare-defaulters (such as France or the United Kingdom), serial defaulters (such as Argentina or Greece—despite defaulting often, they are also allowed to borrow again quite quickly), and perpetual defaulters (such as Ecuador—once they default for the first time, they are barred from credit markets for decades). In order to shed light on the quantitative differences in these countries’ histories, Professor Xu and her team aim to use new text-based techniques which would allow them to incorporate the qualitative conditions surrounding default.  

Faculty supervisor: Chenzi Xu, Graduate School of Business 
Research fellow: Karthick Arunachalam, '23, economics and political science majors

Patterns of Organizational Mobility in the Chinese Bureaucracy 

What are the forces that have fueled the rapid economic development in China in the past four decades? Some attribute the success story to the top officials who govern the administrative levels of the localities, dispatched by the Chinese state through a top-down process. Others emphasize the important role of local elites, especially those local officials who live and work in the same locality for an extended period of time (many spend their entire work career in one locality). In this research project, Professor Xueguang Zhou and his team aim to resolve this research question by collecting data on both economic indicators and official career information, as well as analyzing how different types of officials, characteristic of distinct career trajectories, and affiliation with these localities affect economic development and social welfare. Professor Zhou and his team will construct a longitudinal dataset with rich information on socioeconomic indicators at different localities (counties, prefectures, and selected provinces) to examine and compare changes in the association between the elite mobility and economic development (and social welfare) across regions and over time in China.

Faculty supervisor: Xueguang Zhou, Department of Sociology 
Research fellow: Zecheng Wang, '21, political science major

Quantifying the Effect of Rising Incarceration on Tuberculosis Notifications Across Brazil

Brazil’s incarcerated population has grown by over 300% since 2000 and Brazil now holds the third largest prison population in the world. Incarceration dramatically increases the risk of many infectious diseases, including tuberculosis. Globally, tuberculosis incidence within prisons is 23 times the incidence outside prisons. Prisons additionally act as institutional amplifiers of tuberculosis, perpetuating epidemics through spillover of disease from high-transmission prison environments into the population outside. However, the effect of increasing incarceration rates on population-wide incidence of tuberculosis is difficult to measure. This research will combine time-series data on incarceration rates and tuberculosis notifications across Brazil’s twenty-six states to test the effect of increasing incarceration rates on population-wide tuberculosis notifications. The research team will apply a difference-in-differences approach, leveraging state-level differences, to measure the burden of tuberculosis attributable to increases in incarceration across Brazil.

Faculty supervisor: Jason Andrews, School of Medicine
Research fellow: Ellie Fajer, '23, biology major, music and earth systems minors

Reducing Deforestation through Designing Markets and Incentives for Smallholders

Deforestation is one of the leading sources of global greenhouse gas emissions, with a significant proportion performed by smallholder farmers in developing countries. Curbing smallholder deforestation is a cost-effective way of reducing emissions, but requires careful consideration of effects on smallholder livelihood and incentives. This research seeks to reduce deforestation by smallholders through designing PES programs and other incentive contracts for smallholders, as well as using market-based algorithmic approaches to apportion forest resources and incentivize forest preservation and sustainable land use by smallholders.  

Faculty supervisor: Irene Lo, Department of Management Science and Engineering
Research fellows: Ruying Gao, MS '22, management science and engineering; Juan Ignacio Langlois, MS '23, management science and engineering

Refugees, Forced Migrants, Training in Entrepreneurial Skills and Business Networks

With 25.9m refugee cases recorded by the UN in 2018, refugees' self-reliance has become a challenge for policymakers. Recent research focuses on refugees' wage employment to address this issue, while many refugee-hosting countries struggle with a high unemployment rate of their citizens. This project focuses on entrepreneurship as a solution for the refugees' self-reliance issue. Literature shows that refugees have stronger entrepreneurial incentives compared to local citizens, but they face greater challenges in starting and growing their businesses. This project aims to study how providing entrepreneurship education and facilitating refugees' team formation using data-driven methods, such as machine learning and matching algorithms, can promote entrepreneurship among refugees.

Faculty supervisor: Charles Eesley, Department of Management Science and Engineering
Research fellows: Makayta Cole, '23, international relations major, Siddharth Ghlaut, '21, economics major

Should Low- and Middle-Income Countries Scale Up Thrombolysis for the Treatment of Ischemic Stroke? 

Stroke is already one of the leading causes of mortality in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and its incidence is set to increase over the coming decades due to population aging and changing lifestyles. While there are many strategies for stroke prevention, once an individual has an acute ischemic stroke, the main treatment for reducing mortality is thrombolysis with tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA). t-PA has been adopted in high-income settings based on evidence from randomized clinical trials. However, LMICs generally do not have the resources and health system capacity to scale up all medical interventions that have been shown to be beneficial in randomized clinical trials, particularly more expensive medical interventions. To inform this policy decision in LMICs, the aim of this research is to gather real-life evidence on the impact of t-PA on stroke mortality at the population level as opposed to in a clinical trial population. Put more simply, this research asks the question as to whether t-PA is a worthwhile investment for improving population health.

Faculty supervisor: Pascal Geldsetzer, School of Medicine
Research fellows: Jules Lee, '21, human biology major; Emily Kohn, '15, MS/MPP '22, economics

Sustainability, Environment and Worker Protection and Empowerment in the Tuna and Seaweed Farming Industries in Indonesia

This project engages with ongoing work connecting two initiatives in Indonesia. The first involves creating greater transparency and mechanisms to protect workers in the tuna fishing industry so as to combat forced labor and other forms of exploitation. The second focuses on developing systems to empower local seaweed farming communities in Sulawesi, Indonesia (major global source of seaweed) to reverse exploitative power dynamics in their industry and adopt best practices that will both assist them in rising above the poverty line and promote coastal environmental sustainability. There is an overlap between the two projects in the regard that both relate to some technical innovations that Professor David Cohen and his team are developing as well as working with workers cooperatives and regulatory agencies to improve social and economic outcomes for workers and families in both industries. These projects involve the Center for Human Rights and International Justice and the Ocean Solutions Center at Stanford, together with Indonesia NGO and civil society partners.

Faculty supervisor: David Cohen, Department of Classics
Research fellow: Sarah Saboorian, '22, economics major, human rights and sustainability minors

Technology-Based Rapid Hiring in Entrepreneurial Ventures Project in Bangkok, Thailand 

One of the major challenges for entrepreneurs is hiring the initial team to turn their ideas into prototypes and initial products. Particularly, for entrepreneurs who are not located in the epicenter of entrepreneurial activities, it becomes a major trial. Often times investors demand to see a working prototype before making an investment decision. The problem is almost like a double-edged sword – entrepreneurs need financial resources to hire employees and build the initial product, but they need employees and initial product to secure financial resources. Given financial and reputational constraints, attracting talent becomes so cumbersome that many entrepreneurs have to quit their promising ideas even before the ventures officially take off. In this study, Professor Charles Eesley and his team propose to develop a “gig economy” platform for entrepreneurs enabling them to seamlessly recruit, form, hire and possibly fire “flash teams” of workers in entrepreneurial ventures. The research team will develop a software platform and run a few accelerator programs in Thailand and would measure the impact of their platform on entrepreneurs’ performance. 

Faculty supervisor: Charles Eesley, Department of Management Science and Engineering
Research fellow: Monica Tavassoli, '23, management science and engineering major, sociology minor

Technology-Enabled Modernization of the Sales Function of SMEs in Latin America: A Field Experiment

This project aims to understand the impact of modernizing the sales function of small and medium businesses in Guatemala, El Salvador and Columbia through a Randomized Controlled Trial. Small businesses often do not have the systems and tangible practices employed by big businesses to generate and qualify sales leads, track them through the purchase funnel and build customer relationships. The aim of this research is to understand how modernizing the sales through a mix of training, mentorship and adoption of technologies impacts firm business outcomes such as sales and profits.  We focus on two aspects of the sales function – transactional and relational - and examine how these impact the business. To this end, Professor Sridhar Narayanan and his team have designed a field experiment that is currently in the pilot phase, and will launch in the field over the summer. Professor Narayanan and his team have partnered with a mobile application-based CRM solution firm to develop a customized Spanish language version of the app for the businesses in our experiment.  They have also developed training modules that owners and selected employees of the businesses will undergo to upgrade their sales management skills and practices. The businesses will also undergo customized one-on-one sessions to help them implement the skills learned in the training modules.  

Faculty supervisor: Sridhar Narayanan, Graduate School of Business 
Research fellow: Thanawat Sornwanee, '24, electrical engineering major

The Empowerment and Employment of Women in India 

India’s female labor force participation rate is among the lowest in the world. Research suggests that many women in India want to work and that their husbands’ opposition to their work is a key constraint to them doing so. King Center Postdoctoral Fellow Madeline McKelway conducted a series of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in partnership with one of India’s largest carpet manufacturing firms that shed light on how women can be empowered to make decisions about their own labor supply and on how their employment affects their empowerment.

Faculty supervisor: Madeline McKelway, King Center on Global Development
Research fellow: Ravichandra Tadigadapa, '21, economics and international relations majors

Topical Emollient Therapy for Prevention of Atopic Diseases in Young Children in Bangladesh: Protocol Development in Preparation for a Clinical Trial

Atopic diseases impact child physical and emotional health, and family and national economies. In collaboration with Professor Peter Elias at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Professor Gary Darmstadt has developed a highly efficacious, low-cost, quality-assured, easy-to-manufacture Optimized Emollient Mixture (OEM) designed for daily use in newborns and young children from birth to avert infections and atopic diseases in young children. Through this project, Professor Darmstadt aims to develop a study protocol and grant application to 1) Demonstrate the acceptability and safety of his OEM product, 2) Test the clinical impact of OEM on skin barrier function; incidence of atopic dermatitis (primary outcome), asthma and food allergies; incidence of serious infections; and weight gain, and 3) Determine household economic impacts of prophylactic treatment of young children with OEM compared to sunflower seed oil-treated and control children. Skin barrier repair therapy with this product is meant for every child globally, from birth and continuing into childhood, and has the potential to substantially improve the survival, health, well-being and economic status of hundreds of millions of children and their families worldwide. Professors Darmstadt and Elias are working with a business partner on plans for commercialization of the OEM product through a business model that will ensure that the product is affordable for families at the lowest levels of socio-economic status worldwide. Working with Professor Darmstadt, the research fellow will develop a study protocol that will form the basis for grant applications to fund the clinical trial.

Faculty supervisor: Gary Darmstadt, School of Medicine 
Research fellow: Keona Blanks, '23, earth systems major

Understanding Lead Adulteration in Spices

Lead is a potential neurotoxin and poses a serious threat to public health and human intellectual capital worldwide. While no levels of lead exposure are considered safe for humans, lead is particularly detrimental to children during the developmental period of their central nervous systems. Professor Scott Fendorf and his research team’s past research in various countries worldwide has identified lead chromate-adulterated spices as one important exposure route, resulting in spice lead concentrations up to 1,200 ppm in Bangladesh, 5,000 ppm in India, and 40,000 ppm in the Republic of Georgia. This project aims to 1) assess the prevalence of lead chromate adulteration in spices collected from various countries, 2) develop low-cost rapid lead detection tests for field suitability, and 3) assess the bio-accessibility of lead in spices. 

Faculty supervisor: Scott Fendorf, Department of Earth System Science
Research fellow: Carla Nicolini, '23, earth systems science major

When Do Women Represent Women?: Women’s Electoral Representation and Policy Decisions in India 

This project asks: when and why does women’s descriptive representation beget their substantive representation? To answer this question, Professor Soledad Prillaman and her team will draw on a trove of administrative data from across India, including data at the village-level on the reservation status of elected positions and lists of elected officials for several past elections. As a first step, they will develop a model to identify instances of proxyism by linking the names and family names of elected representatives across elections and determine instances of familial relations/dynasties across subsequent elections. They will then examine the impact of proxyism on local public policies: that is, whether women’s concerns are given less voice in locations with high rates of proxyism.

Faculty supervisor: Soledad Prillaman, Department of Political Science 
Research fellow: Emma Williamson, '22, biomedical computation major